Man crushed to death under BMW ‘as he tried to steal catalytic converter’

A man trying to steal a catalytic converter from a BMW was killed when the car fell on him, an inquest has heard.

Daniel Stephens, 25, from Pontypool, was found dead by the owner of the vehicle in a car park on High Street, Cymmer, Porth at about 6am on August 12, 2020.

An inquest into Mr Stephens' death at Pontypridd Coroners Court on Tuesday heard that Mr Stephens was feeling "down and stressed" the night before he died.

His friend, Aaron Godfrey, who was with him on the evening of August 11, said that Mr Stephens – who had three children with a former partner – had told him that he needed money to attend court for child arrangements.

In a statement read to the court, Mr Godfrey said: "He had spoken about stealing a catalytic converter from a BMW he had seen in Porth.

"He knew it would be worth around £500 – but I told him not to do anything stupid or steal anything."

Mr Godfrey said he heard a car leaving from outside his home in Ynysybwl – where Mr Stephens had also been living since July 2020 – at about 1am on August 12 which he assumed was his friend.

However, when he woke up at about 5am, he realised that neither Mr Stephens nor the car had returned to the house, and so drove to Porth to see if he was there.

When he arrived on High Street, reports WalesLive, he saw two people standing by a silver BMW, as well as a person's legs sticking out from under the car, before turning around and driving home when he saw police were already at the scene.

Mr Stephens' body was discovered in the car park by Russell Seldon, the vehicle's owner, as he left to drive to work shortly before 6am.

"I walked across the street from my house to my car which was in the small car park opposite," Mr Seldon said in a statement read to the court."

He went on: "I saw a pair of legs sticking out from under the car, wearing dark coloured bottoms and trainers.

"I called out and pulled on the person's leg to see if they were okay, but there was no response."

PC Leah Jeffries of South Wales Police told the inquest that she received a report at about 6am of an unresponsive male who had been found underneath a car that had been jacked up.

When she arrived on the scene, she saw that the car had collapsed onto Mr Stephens' body and there was a visible pooling of blood on his back. She noticed that Mr Stephens was was "cold and stiff", reports the BBC.

Ambulance crews and the fire brigade arrived on the scene shortly afterwards, and the car was lifted off Mr Stephens. When the car was pulled off him, it became clear that his chest had collapsed under its weight.

He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead and was later identified by his fingerprints and tattoos. A car jack and torch were also found next to his body when the car was lifted off him.

A toxicology report found a small amount of tramadol and alcohol in samples of Mr Stephens' blood and urine, while a post-mortem revealed injuries to his chest, face, and neck consistent with being crushed by a heavy weight.

The medical cause of death was given as crush asphyxia.

Assistant coroner for South Wales Central Rachel Knight offered her condolences to Mr Stephens' family and friends.

The coroner said he was "clearly missed by many people", before delivering a conclusion of accidental death.

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